So the next Ibiza summer is looming and realisation is dawning that we need to, at some point soon, reveal the flesh which has been covered up and hidden all winter under comfort clothes and woolly layers. Never fear. Whilst I am of the belief that yoga is predominantly a breath and relaxation exercise, of course there are other physical benefits too. And whilst this should not, by any means, be the focus of the practice, it’s a lovely side-effect! So let’s enjoy it…
Here are some poses which will get you feeling fit, toned and lean for summer. Remember when practicing, to breath through all postures. Never hold anything for too long or if you feel pain. Pain is not good, but strong sensations are OK. Be kind to yourself and when your body says it has had enough, listen to it…
Downward Dog (pictured above)
Begin in Child’s pose and reach your arms out in front of you. Tuck your toes and inhale onto your knees. As you exhale, draw the navel back towards the spine and lead with the hips up into the air. Try to find space throughout all your joints and as your hips fly upwards, allow your heels to melt down towards the floor. Hold this downward dog – through your breathing for as long as you feel able. Try to hold it for at least a minute.
This one always creates a groan in the class. Get down on your hands and the balls of your feet like you would at the start of a press up. Hold your back straight. Draw navel to spine on an exhale. Tuck your tail bone in and press your shoulders down. Try to inflate your shoulder blades.
Hold this pose while you breathe. Keep checking in with your body positioning. Make sure that your hands are underneath your shoulders. Are your heels close together? Keep your neck relaxed and level with your spine. Hold this pose for one minute. If you are feeling really strong – you can try inhaling with one arm up and then the other alternately.
Move into Chaturanga from Plank Pose. As you exhale, bend your arms at the elbow to lower yourself. Hold in this position and continue breathing. As you inhale and exhale, check your position. Are your arms close to your body? Push your shoulder blades down and out to strengthen your support. Keep drawing the navel up towards the spine.
Keep your neck soft. Keep your head down and gaze softly at a spot on the floor directly in front of you. Work up to holding this pose for 30 seconds.
Start this pose in Chaturanga. Exhale and untuck your toes so that the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. Inhale and straighten your arms to lift you up. Arch your back and push your chest forward. Push on the ground with the tops of your feet to lift your legs off of the ground. Let your hips hang and try to lengthen rather than compress the lower spine by using your thigh muscles.
As you slowly breathe in and out, check your position. Keep your navel to spine. Try to release your buttocks. Keep your neck soft. Look ahead of you and slightly upward. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
And last two!
Stand up straight with your right foot pointed straight in front of you. Move your left leg behind you and come up on to the tip toes of this foot. Bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep tilting your pelvis up towards your navel to take care of the lower back. Raise your arms and put your palms together. Stretch your arms up and back. Arch your back to elongate your spine and lengthen the front of your body.
Hold the pose for up to one minute. Then, switch sides and repeat the pose.
Start this position from Warrior 1 foot and leg positions, but widen your stance slightly. Point your front foot forward, slide your back foot out to an angle and bend your thigh parallel to the floor. Now, turn your torso to the side so your hips are now facing the long edge of your mat. Open out your arms and hold them parallel to the floor, palms down sending energy out through your fingers. Turn your head forward over your front arm.
Hold this position for up to one minute. Then switch sides.
And finish in Savasana… take at least 5 minutes to lie flat on your back with your legs slightly apart and your feet flopped out. Your palms should be facing up to the sky. Let your body become heavy and allow your muscles to soften as your breath becomes quiet.